28 Steps to Prepare Your Home for a Hurricane

October 17, 2018


If your home is in an area of the country where hurricanes are a frequent or likely threat, chances are you already know how important it is to be prepared. Between news coverage, warnings issued by government, and concerns voiced by family and friends, preparation is not an option.

But what exactly does preparedness look like?

It turns out, there are many ways you can ready your property and family for a severe storm. Our guide includes both:

  • Short-term tips – What can I do now to prepare for this fast-approaching hurricane?
  • Long-term tips – What upgrades can I make to my house to better prepare for next hurricane season?

We’ll break it down by area of your home – from your backyard and garage, to the windows and doors that are most vulnerable.

The benefits of properly securing your home in the event of a hurricane are obvious, especially if you’re worrying about the worst-case scenario. Unfortunately, even a small opening in your home’s exterior that allows wind/rain through can result in pretty significant damage!

So, whether you have a few days’ notice or are planning home improvements to tackle in the next few years, we’ve got you – and your home – covered.

 

Doors and Windows

Do This Now:

Close and lock all your windows. Obvious? Perhaps – but people tend to think less clearly in an emergency. Better to cross it off your list now!

Inspect each window and door and reseal if necessary. If you’re reading this, your home is likely located in a hurricane zone. This means the seams and seals on your doors and windows will become damaged more quickly over time than those housed in drier climates. Inspect by checking the caulk around the frame and glazing around the panes carefully. You may also hold a candle near the window on a breezy day, to detect any air movement.

Shutter all the windows in your house. If a big storm is approaching with hurricane-force winds, this may be necessary. Make sure the shutters are impact-resistant and rated to withstand flying debris up to 100 mph, at least. When installing, don’t mount the shutters to your window frame (particularly if you want to keep that frame intact!) Instead, mount to the wall around the windows.

Install a heavy-duty bolt to your doors. If you think they could use some additional reinforcing, purchase a bolt kit from a hardware store. They’re quick and easy to install and will keep the tops and bottoms of all doors much more secure.

It’s vitally important to keep wind out of your home, and windows and doors are weak spots in your home’s defense against severe storms. All it takes is a small opening to hurricane-force winds to enter your home. If that happens, the wind can get trapped and tear your home apart from the inside out. Please don’t skimp on these important steps!

 

Do This Later:

Upgrade to impact-resistant windows and doors. Many products can withstand winds up to 200 mph, including the projectiles those winds are hurling at your home. The result? Much less damage, and much less cleanup.

 

Roof

Do This Now:

Check all the shingles and seams and reseal if necessary. Yep, just like with your windows and doors! After those, your roof should be the main area of focus when preparing your home for a hurricane.

Check that roof trusses have enough bracing. Look extra closely when inspecting gable ends.

Fix broken or damaged shingles and tiles. Another round of inspections here! Make sure every single one is secure. If not, they’ll need to be replaced or fixed.

Install metal roof straps. Does your roof have straps holding it down? Many homes have roofs that aren’t secured very well, relying on gravity more than anything else. But in a hurricane zone, this won’t do. If you have the ability, consider installing roof straps.

 

Do This Later:

Upgrade to a wind-resistant roof with special hurricane clips. Your roof is the opening to all your possessions on the inside of your house. And the one area on your home that is most likely to be damaged in a big storm. Those hurricane clips will keep your roof secure, and attached to your home, in the worst of storms.

 

Yard, Porch, Deck and Patio

Bring all ungrounded furniture and décor inside. Unless you want your pink flamingo to take flight, best to take it indoors. All loose items, big and small, need to come inside. You may have to adjust your definition of “loose” as it pertains to 100 mph winds. That porch swing may be secure in good weather, but not in a hurricane. Just ask yourself: Can this fly away? If the answer is yes, it should go inside.

Check that deck and porch posts are secure and undamaged. Most importantly, confirm that they are properly anchored. That’s the key word for all items outside of your house – anchored. If they’re not secure or could potentially lift up and damage your properly, best to fix it now!

Trim any tree branches that are within 10 feet of your house. Especially those near windows, and especially those branches that are already breaking or dead. Better to take them down in advance, rather than carry them from your living room later.

Clean out your gutters. Leaves, branches, and other debris can cause overflow, which can damage your siding, your roof, and send water straight into your basement.

Check the foundation of your house for any cracks or other signs of distress. A little DIY patchwork can go a long way! Your basement will thank you.

 

Do This Later:

Switch from gravel to woodchips. Or from stone to mulch – you get the idea. If your home is in an area where hurricanes are common, you may want to stay away from harder landscaping materials, like rocks, or those that can be easily damaged, like tile. And if you already use stones or gravel, consider replacing them with something softer.

 

Garage

Do This Now:

Install vertical door braces. Garage doors tend to be pretty flimsy, and therefore particularly vulnerable in a storm. The tendency is for these doors to blow in, which means reinforcing from the inside is your first move.

Install horizontal beams. This is an optional extra step, but one worth noting.

 

Do This Later:

Upgrade to an impact-resistant garage door. We know that regular garage doors are especially vulnerable during a hurricane. Considering the valuables (of the 4-wheel variety) you keep inside your garage; an upgrade isn’t a bad idea.

 

Basement

Do This Later:

Your basement has a distinct disadvantage in any storm, as it sits lower than any other part of your house, allowing the forces of rain and gravity to wreak havoc.

If you’ve secured all your doors and windows, and your roof looks good. And if you’ve thoroughly checked your foundation, there’s not much else you can do to prevent water from getting in. However, there is something you can do in case water comes in:

Get a sump pump. It may not be glamorous, but it is that simple. Water damage that can be avoided, should be avoided. It’s not a regret you want to have.

Make sure your sump pump is working properly. Double-check that it’s free of debris and not clogged. Make sure you have backup battery power for it. If your sump pump is clogged, it won’t be able to remove water fast enough to prevent damage, or it could cause the motor to burnout and quit working entirely.

 

For Your Safety

Whether you decide to evacuate during a storm or ride it out, there are things you can do for the safety of yourself and anyone else who you share a space with:

Put together a survival kit. Include water, non-perishable food items, medicine, and a first-aid kit. Gather up flashlights and battery-powered lanterns, extra batteries, phone chargers, battery-powered radio, and other necessities.

Invest in (and power up) a generator. This is especially helpful if the storm is expected to last a while. Even if it doesn’t last long, a power outage can.

Turn your refrigerator and freezer to their highest settings. This precaution is important, in case the power goes out.

Plan for evacuation. If there’s even the slightest possibility you’ll have to move, the sooner, the better it is to prepare. Have your car gassed up well in advance of leaving. Gather the supplies you’ll need as early as possible. This cannot be stressed enough. Avoid the chaos and the crowds and the delays by being prepared and do so as quickly as you can.

Also, don’t forget your route. Do you know where you’ll be driving to safety? And an evacuation checklist is also a good idea, so you don’t forget anything – like closing and locking the windows in your home.

Find a “safe zone” in your home. If riding out the storm, first and foremost, make sure that’s the right decision. Then find a location in your house that’s clear of windows, and on the ground floor, where you and others can hunker down if things get rough.

 

Insurance Coverage

Review your policy. It’s important to know what your insurance covers and what it doesn’t. Review your policy so you know exactly what to anticipate, should worst come to worst. If you’re not sure, call your agent ahead of time and get educated.

Standard policies may not cover everything (for example, flooding or wind damage) – but there may be separate policies that do. Before the storm is the best time to find out!

 

Storm Protection Matters

When it comes to you and your home surviving a hurricane, there is no such thing as being “too prepared”. Since you know exactly when the storm will make landfall, there’s no reason to be caught unaware.

Before or well after a significant hurricane, there are many simple upgrades you can make to your home to prevent risks during the next storm. If the associated cost is the only thing keeping you from protecting your home or loved ones, know that you have options.

At Ygrene, we offer PACE financing solutions to help make hurricane-prevention home projects more affordable. See if your property qualifies for PACE Financing, learn more about the storm protection measures we cover, and please get in touch with any questions you may have.  We’re here to help you prepare your home to weather every storm.